Despite his partiality, Abdullah Anas offers some useful insights into al-Qaida’s roots

Where should we start if we are to tell the story of the violent Islamist extremism that still threatens us today? The question is an important one and its answer has significance that goes well beyond chronology.

Some commentators in the west, usually to the right of the political spectrum, will start in the 7th century AD with the life and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad or with the first texts of Islam. The implication is obvious: that there is something inherent in the Islamic faith that engenders or at least encourages violence.

He makes clear that the CIA had no role in directly training, funding or equipping this tiny force

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